JOSEPH Robinette Biden Jr, who was sworn in as the 46th President of United States of America yesterday is a suave, urbane, quiet-talking Democrat who has paid his dues in almost facet of life. Apart from assuming the reins at 77 years, making him one of the oldest – if not the oldest – to occupy White House, he served two terms as vice-president to former president, Barack Obama. And this was after being a long-time senator in Washington.
Biden’s inauguration came 36 years after his first attempt to become US president.
He was born on November 20, 1942 and grew up in the blue-collar city of Scranton in northeast Pennsylvania. His father, Joseph Biden Sr. worked as furnaces cleaner and used car salesman. His mother was Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Finnegan.
An ardent Catholic, Biden attended St. Paul’s Elementary School in Scranton. In 1955, when he was 13 years old, the family moved to Mayfield, Delaware—a rapidly growing middle-class community sustained primarily by the nearby DuPont chemical company.
As a child, Biden struggled with a stutter, and kids called him “Dash” and “Joe Impedimenta” to mock him. He eventually overcame his speech impediment by memorising long passages of poetry and reciting them out loud in front of the mirror. He attended St. Helena School Archmere Academy where he had to work part-time to help his family afford tuition in fulfillment of his dream of attending the school, which he called “the object of my deepest desire, my Oz.” He also attended University of Delaware, where he studied history and political science and played football.
On a spring break trip to the Bahamas during his junior year, Biden met a Syracuse University student named Neilia Hunter and fell in love with her. The romance led to marriage the next year, in 1966. The marriage produced three children: Beau, Hunter, and Amy. Biden later took a second wife in 1977, who gave him daughter, Ashley in 1981. She is Jill.
Biden was at best a mediocre law student. During his first year at Syracuse, he flunked a class for failing to properly cite a reference to a law review article. Although he claimed it was an accidental oversight, the incident would haunt him later in his career.
Biden briefly worked as an attorney before turning to politics before he became the fifth-youngest U.S senator in history as well as Delaware’s longest-serving senator. His 2008 presidential campaign never gained momentum but Democratic nominee Barack Obama selected him and he became the 47th vice president of United States. In 2017, at the close of his administration, Obama presented Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Biden’s presidential campaign started on April 25, 2019, when he declared his ambition in a three-minute video announcement.
Although he easily led most Democratic polls at the time he entered the race, Biden’s candidacy soon became a litmus test for a party with an increasingly progressive base.
Underscoring the challenges of presenting himself as a moderate, Biden drew criticism for affirming his support of the Hyde Amendment, a 43-year-old measure that banned federal funding for abortions, before reversing his position shortly afterward.
During the first Democratic primary debate in late June, Biden again found his track record targeted when Kamala Harris took him to task for his opposition to busing as a means of integrating schools in the 1970s. He fared better in subsequent debates, in which he demonstrated his sound grasp of foreign policy and tied his accomplishments to those of President Obama.
In August, Biden officially became the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee to square him in ceaseless spats with former president, Donald Trump.